The accusations against Netanyahu include the claim that he received illicit gifts worth thousands of dollars from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli billionaire.
According to the New Yorker:
“These gifts, according to leaked reports, included Cuban cigars, at a cost of five thousand dollars a month, as well as jewelry and what the Hebrew press has poetically referred to as ‘pink champagne’ for Netanyahu’s wife, Sara. Another wealthy executive, the Australian James Packer, allegedly paid for travel for Netanyahu and his wife and son, including stays at luxury hotels. Netanyahu has denied that any of the gifts amount to a bribe, stating that they were merely tokens of friendship. Still, police have reportedly found receipts in Milchan’s office for the purchase of cigars and other goods worth about a hundred thousand dollars. Israeli law prohibits public representatives from receiving any gift that isn’t ‘of small value and reasonable in context,’ a somewhat ambiguous clause that will no doubt play a role in the Attorney General’s weighing of a potential indictment.”
Just this month, an Indian billionaire visiting Israel had to give testimony to the police regarding allegations of corruption involving Netanyahu, as well. The police questioned him for two hours in relation to claims that the billionaire gave Netanyahu gifts valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels.
According to the Independent, a separate investigation is looking into secret talks with the publisher of a major Israeli newspaper in which the prime minister allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for curbing the newspaper’s main competitor.
No formal charges have been laid against Netanyahu, but the investigations are continuing.
Just this week, Israeli media reported that Israeli police believe they may have sufficient evidence to bring formal charges against Netanyahu.
The Independent notes that the scandal has harmed his approval rating, which may be one other reason why a regional war could be imminent — Netanyahu may desperately need a scapegoat to distract from Israel’s internal political issues.